They Don’t Actually Know Anything – 7 Takeaways No. 175

There's no right way to parent. Why so serious? Perhaps bad habits serve a purpose. New tech? We've been here before. Being a grownup. AI is dumb. Misinformed about misinformation.

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1. “There’s no one right way to do this.”

Screen time: What are other parents doing? – Jacqueline Nesi, PHD – (Techno Sapiens newsletter)

This, I suppose, is ultimately reassuring to parents out there who are struggling to figure out what to do with technology in the hands of their children.

Half of parents monitor their teens’ phones, half do not. Roughly half have time limits, and half do not. Some argue with their teens about phone use, some don’t. Some think this is all pretty easy, some think it’s hard.

Reassuring because being human, we’re always comparing ourselves, or are being compared, to our peers. For those decisions, and within this cohort, folks are going every which way.

Here’s my concern, though. Comparison with others might be inevitable, and hearing that there are large swaths making the same choices as you are is nice, but it doesn’t help clarify or solve the underlying concern. All it really does is give you a better sense for whether you’re following the crowd, or just how confused the crowd might be.

Do this: Focus on the concern, and do what you honestly believe to be best. What others do should help focus your research, not make your decision(s) for you.

#comparison #decisions

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2. “Too many adults become serious people.”

The Case for Being Less Serious – Calvin Rosser – (Blog)

It’s true. So many people simply become more and more serious (and some with a bonus helping of grumpy) as they get older. They leave not just “childlike curiosity”, but sometimes also simple adult joy behind.

I get it. Life is full of important, serious stuff. But it’s not only full of important, serious stuff. In fact, many things we think are important and serious are that way only because that’s how we view them, not because that’s what they really are.

It’s not a switch you can just flip. I get that too.

Instead of being engrossed in the incessant dialogue of the adult mind, try to see the world with fresh eyes. Even if you can do it only once a week, that’s better than nothing.

Do this: See the world. See the joy. See the laughter.

#seriousness #joy #laughter

3. “The only thing that brings joy to our otherwise dull existence.”

I’m Finally Quitting Trying to Quit My Bad Habits – Ivaylo Durmonski – (Blog)

An interesting analysis of bad habits, why we so often cling to them, what it might take to change them, and why changing some might be more important than changing all.

Smoking and drinking were costing me money, making me ill, and messing up my love life. But in return, these two gave me a relief from stress, a chance to slow down and relax, an opportunity to socialize, and, last but not least, smoking and drinking are still perceived as the benchmark of coolness.

Bad habits exist for a reason: they provide some perceived benefit. Breaking a habit means losing that benefit. That means success relies more on walking away from that benefit (difficult), or getting it from a replacement, less harmful habit.

Do this: Think about the habits you want to lose. Identify the benefit they’re providing you.


4. “New technology always seems impersonal.”

AI Writing Will Feel Real—Eventually – Dan Shipper – (Chain of Thought newsletter,

This isn’t quite the essay I’ve been looking for, but it’s close. There are two concepts here, and the first is explained more clearly than the second.

Every new technology is initially regarded with suspicion before being grudgingly accepted, and then eventually take for granted. Shipper gives examples of things like typewriters, radios, and more. Things we all take for granted today (or have moved beyond.)

The second point (perhaps mostly mine) is that it’s unwise to evaluate technology based on its early implementation. Tech that succeeds, improves, and in doing so, solves problems, or improves processes. AI is in that state today.

But it’s equally clear to me that, even though AI writing seems strange right now—disingenuous, disgusting, even—the greatest art of the next few generations will probably be made from it.

Do this: Reserve judgement. Perhaps take part in shaping the future.

#AI #progress

5. “Handling your grownup shit your grownup self”

Grow the F*ck Up: How to Be an Adult and Get Treated Like One – Sarah Knight – (ebook)

I’m part way through this verbally irreverent, yet topically on-point book. It’s a fun read, but more than that it’s addressing what I think many of us see as a persistent, and possibly growing problem: entitlement and self-centered behavior focused on the short term. People the author refers to as BFB’s or “Big F*cking Babies”. People who fail at “adulting”.

There’s a lot of common sense, wisdom, and direction here that clearly enough people don’t take to heart. Common sense isn’t common.


That alone would be an important game-changer if they could understand exactly how true it is, and how it applies to absolutely everything.

Do this: Be an adult.

#adulting #responsibility

6. “They don’t actually know anything”

ChatGPT is dumber than it looks – Seth Godin – (Blog)

This is a useful reminder of what large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT are, and are not. For example, they are not smart. They know nothing.

… the model is simply calculating probabilities. Not about the unknown, but about everything. Each word, each sentence, is a statistical guess.

Probabilities. Nothing more and nothing less. Downright amazing when used properly, but it’s all just numbers and statistics under the hood.

Do this: Remember the limits of any tool you choose to use.


7. “Have we been misinformed about the power of misinformation?”

Don’t Believe What They’re Telling You About Misinformation – Manvir Singh – (The New Yorker)

I found this a fascinating essay on misinformation, fake news, what people truly believe, what drives those true beliefs, and the various ways in which people express, or hide, those true beliefs and why.

… conservatives deem false headlines to be true more often than liberals—but found that the difference drops by half when people are compensated for accuracy

One factor complicating understanding what people truly believe is their propensity for expressing what they’re “supposed” to believe in any context.

Do this: Question your beliefs and why you believe them.

#misinformation #beliefs #fake-news

Additional Interesting Links

What I’m Reading

In progress:


A full list of my common sources is on the sources page.

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